Editorial: Investigation aside, bombing an Iraqi shrine is a reminder of the brutality of war

This file photo shows the Pentagon in Washington. (AP)
Updated 22 October 2016

Editorial: Investigation aside, bombing an Iraqi shrine is a reminder of the brutality of war

Just like misinformation led to a Saudi-led coalition plane targeting a funeral hall — and ultimately killing Yemeni civilians — earlier this month; yesterday’s airstrike on a Shiite shrine near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk — which has killed 15 women according to AFP — was another tragic reminder of wars, the mistakes that occur in them and how innocent civilians always end up paying the price.
Of course, state-owned Iranian media immediately accused the United States of conducting the strike on the shrine (seemingly without bothering to seek a confirmation from the Pentagon). For its part, Arab News reached out to the US Department of Defense and a spokesperson advised that the matter is still being investigated, adding that they are in the process of finding out whether or not there were any missions by the US-led coalition against Daesh actually flying at the time and place of the above-mentioned strike.
Yet, any well-informed expert on regional affairs will tell you that — apart from the US coalition — there aren’t exactly many options when it comes to the ability of conducting airstrikes in Iraq.
At the same time, one must remember that the US — like Saudi Arabia — subscribes to and respects international treaties. Furthermore, and contrary to Iranian propaganda, it certainly has no interest or intention in targeting mosques, residential areas or funerals.
Now, regardless of the outcome of the Pentagon’s internal investigation, the fact remains that 15 innocent women died in Iraq yesterday. This is truly sad, as any innocent life lost — be it Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Jewish or of any other religion — is a life too many!
It goes without saying that any/all warring nations must continue to do their utmost to avoid civilian causalities; countries that develop weapon systems must continue to enhance their precision technology, or enhance their intelligence gathering to avoid atrocities such as what happened in Kirkuk yesterday.
But most importantly, with only days separating us from the upcoming American elections, all one could hope for is that the next US president gets better advice on the complexities of the Middle East. And that he/she understands that the war — whether physical or ideological — on the likes of Daesh and the equally horrific Iranian-funded militias can’t be won through a remote control, but through close engagement and via a better partnership with long-term and reliable US allies, such as its Arab Gulf allies.


Young Saudi’s opera singing journey leads him to Italy

Mohammed Al-Zahrani’s adventure started in school, where a classmate encouraged him to refine his talent. (Supplied)
Updated 20 min 57 sec ago

Young Saudi’s opera singing journey leads him to Italy

  • Performer wants to be as famous as Pavarotti

JEDDAH: Mohammed Al-Zahrani has faced down many challenges while pursuing his dream to be an opera singer and represent Saudi Arabia on the world stage, and his journey has led him to Italy, where he is living in Rome and learning the language.

“I have encountered many social and traditional barriers but I luckily managed to overcome those obstacles,” the 23-year-old performing artist told Arab News.
“The objection of my family, relatives and friends was a result of their unawareness about other cultures. They are very strict and conservative people who adhere to customs and traditions.” But their stance has softened since he landed in Europe. “At such a young age, I am living far away from my own country and family just to represent my country the best way I can.”
His adventure started in school, where a classmate heard him sing and encouraged him to refine his talent. It was then that he believed he could be an international opera singer. “That was a dream and I am now working on that dream.”
The Italians were friendly and welcoming, he said, and his cultural and religious background has never proved to be an issue. They were polite and nice, regarding him as an ambitious and talented person who shared their love of art.
“I want to help spread this beautiful art in Saudi Arabia and change our people’s perception about all kinds of Western arts. Also, I would like to open an opera house in my country and lend a hand to those willing to learn classical arts.”
Al-Zahrani has joined the Coro Polifonico Musica Creator choir. He said that the story began when he was waiting for a train in Rome and saw a man playing piano at the station.

I have encountered many social and traditional barriers but I luckily managed to overcome those obstacles.

Mohammed Al-Zahrani, Performer

“I noticed that the music he was playing was familiar. I approached him and began to sing. I was just trying to pass time until the train arrived. It turned out that one of the passengers was a member of the choir. She asked for my phone number and arranged a meeting with the director of the choir.”
The director listened to Al-Zahrani sing a few days later and expressed her interest in his voice.
“She immediately chose me as a solo singer in the choir and insisted I take part in an upcoming concert. I remember I was playing an assisting role to the famous singer Francesco Sartori.”
Al-Zahrani is a fan of famous opera singers and wants to become as great as they are one day, listing Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli as his favorites.
But some Saudis have disagreed with Al-Zahrani’s decision to drop out of college — he spent one year at King Abdul Aziz University — saying he has put his future at risk.
“Wherever you go, there are always people with you and those who are against you. Personally, I will do what I am convinced with no matter what their opinions are,” he said.
Al-Zahrani performed at Riyadh Season and has been invited to perform in other Saudi festivals, including the coming Jeddah Season. “No matter what support I receive or individual successes I make, I will always be in need of my country’s encouragement
and support.”
Saudi Arabia’s first opera house is set to open in Jeddah, the General Entertainment Authority announced last February. It is scheduled for completion in 2022.